Why Getting Enough Sleep Is Just the First Step




image_blog

Sleep is so beneficial for health - it’s been proven to reduce your risk of many chronic diseases and improve cognitive function. You probably already know the amount of sleep experts recommend (I recommend at least 7), but I’d argue that you should focus on quality of sleep just as much as quantity.

Setting yourself up for a good night's sleep may mean changing how you spend your evenings. My nightly routine helps me wind down and gets my body ready for a restful night. Need some help building a routine that promotes sleep? Here are some ideas:

Speaking of sleep hygiene, a few years ago I wrote an article for The Chalkboard Mag unpacking the importance of sleeping with your circadian rhythm. Basically, our bodies are wired to sleep when it’s dark out. We used to think it was just blue light that affected our sleep quality but we now know it’s any light so turn down the lights, limit IG scrolling and give your Netflix binging a bedtime. All of these habits make it harder for you to fall asleep and sleep well, meaning your risk for those chronic diseases goes up and you're less able to deal with stressors and anxiety. 

Sleep, stress, and metabolism are all linked. Given the current state of things - coronavirus, social distancing or quarantining, job changes or losses, financial challenges - it’s more important than ever to focus on your sleep habits and hygiene to tip the scales in your favor for all three. 

Here are a few more simple ways you can work towards getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Wake up with the sun and get outside in the sunlight in the morning - Aligning your sleep with the natural light cycle of the day means your body is working with your circadian rhythm, not fighting it.

  • Be consistent - Waking up and going to sleep at the same times every day helps support your circadian rhythm.

  • Put your screens away - Bright light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. If you can’t get away from screens (hey, late work nights) try blue light glasses with amber lenses and turn down the brightness of those devices.

  • Limit carbs in the late afternoon and evening - Your body goes into fat storage mode at night in particular, so aim for a low-carb, protein-rich dinner and keep that blood sugar curve steady.

In order to feel your best and be able to tackle everything life throws at you, it’s crucial that you get a good night’s sleep as often as you can. Start incorporating these steps, even one at a time. The more you’re able to practice them, the more benefits you’ll see.



x